As I mentioned earlier (here), I really enjoyed David Gordon White‘s The Alchemical Body – an in-depth exploration into the interplay of yoga with spirituality, alchemy and the local political economics of India from 1,500 years ago and even earlier.
Before science and spirituality became dis-integrated, separate explorations (in the past 200 years), they were tightly intertwined and integrated for thousands of years in the practice of ALCHEMY. Just as alchemists (yogis were among the first and best alchemists!) tried to transmutate lesser metals into gold, they also sought to improve and perfect their bodies and minds. Eventually, the process became quite standardized across cultures along both chemical and psychological dimensions.
Here is an awesome blog post from Modus Vivendi entitled, “What I learned as a scientist from the 7 steps in alchemical transformation“. I love the first of 7 steps:
Calcination – Basically this means to destroy the substance. Normally by burning it to ashes. Mentally it is the destruction of the ego.
Yoga postures can be so darn difficult. Practice certainly has a way of crushing the ego. Much to explore here as modern science increasingly seeks to re-integrate science and spirituality.